Aim: To describe the current state of knowledge about the processes of neuronal signalling mediated by the metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors and their potential role in the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Development: The mGlu receptors are a large family of G-protein coupled receptors that modulate excitatory synaptic transmission through several transduction mechanisms. Recent advances in the molecular biology, physiology and pharmacology of these receptors revealed their potential role in a variety of central nervous system disorders such as epilepsy, pain, ischemia, and neurodegenerative diseases. These findings have shown that modulating glutamatergic transmission with drugs interacting selectively on mGlu receptors might have important beneficial effects. A number of results in this direction are very promising and are used to develop new drugs that overcome the multiple side-effects produced by the drugs acting on ionotropic glutamate receptors. Thus, several evidence have provided clear indications of the potential use of selective agonists and antagonists of the different mGlu receptor subtypes as neuroprotective agents.
Conclusions: Determining the role of mGlu receptors in physiological as well as in pathophysiological states will be relevant to develop new treatments for diseases in which glutamatergic neurotransmission is altered. In this sense, the current progress indicates that mGlu receptors are novel and promising therapeutic targets for neurological and psychiatric disorders.